The big news in Iraq is the recent push on Samarra. One can presume it’s part of the strategy that involved an earlier decision to not pursue combat in Sunni areas back in April. That strategy had two parts. First, defeat in detail for the caliphascists. This means concentrating one’s strength against part of the enemy, defeating that and then repeating as necessary. The other was the Iraqification of the effort, in that any victory by the Coalition alone would be temporary (this is in fact one of the valuable lessons from Vietnam).
It looks like the strategy is doing reasonably well. The Sadrites are a broken force. This means that the Sunni factions will be facing Coalition and Iraqi forces who don’t have to watch their backs.
There’s another factor as well, one that I haven’t seen mentioned much elsewhere. This is that nothing seems to do more to discredit the caliphacists in the view of the local population than the caliphacists themselves. One notes that according to news reports, the locals in Samarra were asking the Coalition forces to sweep out the caliphascists. We all know how popular Al-Sadr is in Najaf these days. Even the Nigerians are getting tired of Shari’ah. Some things can’t be explained, only experienced. The joys of life under Al Qaeda and its ilk appear to be one of these. This matters because ultimately it’s not about killing whatever caliphascists happen to be toting guns today (although that’s never a bad idea), but discrediting them in Iraqi public opinion. The Viet Cong insurgency was crushed, requiring their cause to be fufilled by an invading army from the North. Somehow, it doesn’t look like that will be the case this time.